Caterpillar Invasion: London Street Plagued By Bird-Cherry Ermines [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on June 6, 2013 4:06 PM EDT

caterpillar
Hordes of bird-cherry ermine caterpillars have covered cars, houses and the sidewalk on Warfield Street in Hampton, London. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A freak caterpillar invasion in London has residents seriously grossed out.

Hordes of bird-cherry ermine caterpillars have covered cars, houses and the sidewalk, spinning web-like nests on trees. For three weeks, the caterpillars have invaded just one street, Warfield Road in suburban Hampton, London. In some places the infestation of caterpillars is three inches deep.

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At the outset of the caterpillar invasion, mysterious white webbing began to appear on trees, baffling residents on Warfield Road. But soon masses of the bird-cherry ermine caterpillars descended everywhere on the street, to the horror of residents.

Trisha Mole, a woman who lives on the caterpillar-infested street, said, "You cannot help but feel they are doing damage to the trees."

"The trees are completely infested. All the trees are dripping in this white chlorophyll web thing...We are picking the caterpillars out of our hair and the kids' hair," said another resident.

Local officials were sympathetic to residents' concerns, but said the caterpillar infestation should be over soon. According to the Richmond Council, the feeding season of the bird-cherry ermine caterpillars lasts four weeks.

"The caterpillars are totally harmless to humans," a council spokesman said. "They only feast on the tree but the trees recover quite quickly once the caterpillars pupate and the adults start to fly." He added, "We are aware that they have caused the local residents distress and we are investigating what other methods could be used to remove them."

But Councillor Gareth Roberts said there really aren't any methods possible to remove the caterpillars.

"Unfortunately, owing to the advanced stage of the infestation, I'm advised by council officers that even if they were to use the treatments they have at their disposal they would have little effect."

According to the Daily Mail, bird-cherry ermine caterpillars can eat an entire tree bare. Many trees invaded by the caterpillars do end up surviving, but with reduced growth in the next season. The paper also says a similar case occurred in 2011, when 20 matures trees in Birmingham, England were infested with bird-cherry ermine caterpillars.

Though local Hampton residents are indeed disturbed by the caterpillar invasion, the bird-cherry ermine is harmless to humans.

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